Warmed by the Gulf Stream, subtropical Madeira is Portugal’s own sun-soaked floating garden isle—and the distinguished luxury hotel Belmond Reid’s Palace is the undisputed queen of the island. Created by an Englishman to accommodate every visiting aristocrat’s needs since opening in 1891, Reid’s Palace stands high on a promontory which commands a sweeping panorama of the harbour city of Madeira’s capital, Funchal, and the craggy, verdant mountains beyond. Set in acre upon acre of lush gardens, a fragrant riot of flowers, palms, and birds of paradise, Reid’s Palace makes the most of the subtropical climate which makes a trip to Madeira an all-year-round pleasure. It has been so since the turn of the 20th century: Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw and Edward VIII, among numberless dignitaries and celebrities, made Reid’s Palace the destination of choice, which it remains to this day as Belmond Reid’s Palace, part of the luxury group which owns the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express among others.
The part played by Madeira in the British psyche dates back to the 15th-century discovery of the island of Madeira by Henry the Navigator, which launched Portugal’s Golden Age. This volcanic outcrop off the coast of Africa was discovered again by the winter-weary British in the 19th century. So taken were the British by the lush, vertical landscapes, the wild terrain terraced and farmed by its gentle people, the dark, sweet wine, and the ‘days of perpetual June’ that Anglo loyalty became almost legendary.
Dramatic peaks and a crisscross network of signposted walking paths encourage forays into the verdant countryside. A longtime favourite hike follows the old levadas—a manmade web of irrigation channels which carried water from the mountaintops down through the the farms to the fields and villages below. The 36- by 14-mile island (70 per cent is national park) packs more into its chaotic terrain than most areas five times its size. A corkscrew drive into the dramatic interior up and over its razorback spine, the Sierra de Agua, is a white-knuckle thriller, with rewarding views of Pico Ruivo—at 6,109ft, Madeira’s highest mountain.
It may be difficult to tear oneself away from Reid’s Palace however. This luxurious hotel on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean is a haven of sumptuous traditional interiors celebrating the hotel’s British heritage, its panoramic sea views, lush subtropical gardens of honeysuckle and jade vine, the swimming pools, the spa and the relaxed and civilised air, the fine dining, from Michelin Star to elegant Italian—and of course afternoon tea, which is a Reid’s institution.
Reid’s has a light, bright feel in its demeanor today, with views over the sparkling sea and black-and-white check balconies jutting out from the old pink walls offering the perfect place to relax and read, enjoy a cocktail or simply absorb the sun and light sea breeze. Various artifacts and memorabilia attest to the stories of the British families who lived on Madeira, and the history of Madeira wine. Local handicrafts from tiles to linens complete the feel.
The bedrooms are individual, and beautifully furnished—the best having sea views and balconies—and in all the decor is relaxing shades of powder blue and cream, with large king beds (or twins) dressed with silken linens. En-suite marble bathrooms have hand-painted tiles, with tubs and showers and luxurious amenities. Even the entry-level Classic Room is a delight: perched above Funchal Bay and enjoys partial sea or garden views from a private balcony, together with king size or twin beds and an elegant marble bathroom. It measures 18-23 sq m (193-248 sq ft).
For a full sea view from your balcony, the Deluxe Sea View room is stunning, with a prime location and breathtaking sea views from the spacious balcony or patio. Again, it has a king-size bed (or twins) and marble bathroom. It measures 26-31 sq m (280-334 sq ft). And then there is the Deluxe Junior Suite, with stunning sea views from your private balcony in the main hotel or garden wing. With this category you will also have a spacious sitting area—the total area is 37 sq m (398 sq ft).
Many other room and suite options are available, many of them inter-connecting to allow space and privacy for families and close friends, and culminating in the Presidential Suite with hand-painted wallpapers and silk curtains, a large sitting area and oversize veranda with views across the garden and out to the ocean.
The Michelin-star William Restaurant creates seasonal cuisine inspired by local ingredients with dishes such as scallop carpaccio, fresh langoustines, open lobster ravioli enjoyed alongside the products of a discerning wine list, in a sophisticated setting against a backdrop of spectacular panoramic views. A second restaurant, Villa Cipriani, named for Belmond’s Venetian hotel, delivers delicious Italian specialities on its warm, open-air terrace to the sound of the sea. There is also a Pool Terrace for à la carte breakfast with freshly-squeezed juices and sparkling wine, and later in the day, light snacks and drinks. And then of course there is Reid’s afternoon tea, an elegant afternoon tradition which Reid’s Palace is proud to continue.
And when it’s time for some gentle exercise, two tennis courts are at your disposal, plus heated seawater and freshwater swimming pools. And you can walk down to the sea via steps built into the rocks. There’s golf, too, of course, on an ocean-facing course, and walks to watch the birdlife—and see the sun rise over the mountains.
Go in Spring and there will be Flower Festivals to fill the scene with colour and scent; in September you will see the grape harvest reach its peak, followed by the three-day Festa do Vinho Madeira and a chance to sample the delicious wines. And speaking of wine, our Members will receive a welcome bottle of Madeira when they arrive—and that’s not all!
When booking a six-night stay or longer our Members receive 20% off the best available rates, a complimentary room upgrade if available on arrival, early check-in and late check-out upon availability, VIP treatment and complimentary fresh flowers, cakes and Madeira wine in your room on arrival. This means that for our Club Members rates for a Classic room for two start from some 256€ per night (currently about £235). A Deluxe Sea View room with balcony or patio and full sea views starts at 398€ per night for two (currently about £365). Rates fluctuate according to season, and our Club rates are applicable year-round.
To check availability and special Club rates for all dates and room and suite categories, please call Member Services on 020 7399 2960 or follow the link below.
Belmond Reid’s Palace
Estrada Monumental 139